Worldwide medical and scientific journal for animal health professionals

Issue number 26.1 Other Scientific

Anesthesia for cesarean section in the dog

Published 16/03/2021

Written by Bonnie Hay Kraus

Also available in Français , Deutsch , Italiano and Español

The major goal in anesthesia for cesarean section (CS) is to minimize fetal effects of anesthetic drugs in order to minimize fetal respiratory, central nervous system and cardiovascular depression and deliver live, vigorous puppies. 

Resuscitation equipment and drugs should be organized before induction of anesthesia.

Key points

The major goals for cesarean section are to deliver live, vigorous puppies while providing adequate analgesia to the dam.


There is a higher anesthetic risk with cesarean section due to pregnancy-associated physiologic changes.


Planning and preparation are important for both elective and emergent surgical scenarios.


Optimized ventilation, oxygenation and perfusion in the dam should permit a “happy dam, happy baby” scenario.


Neonatal resuscitation centers on stimulating respiration and supporting oxygenation and body temperature.


Most commonly used analgesic drugs may be safely administered to lactating dams without adversely affecting the neonates.


 

Introduction

The major goal in anesthesia for cesarean section (CS) is to minimize fetal effects of anesthetic drugs in order to minimize fetal respiratory, central nervous system and cardiovascular depression and deliver live, vigorous puppies. Of equal importance is to provide adequate analgesia to the dam and prevent anesthesia-related complications such as hypotension, hypoventilation, hypoxemia, hemorrhage and hypothermia, which will increase morbidity and mortality in both mother and puppies. The physiochemical properties which allow drugs to cross the blood-brain barrier also facilitate crossing of the placenta, therefore the assumption should be made (with very few exceptions) that anesthetics, analgesics and sedatives/tranquilizers all cross the placenta. Prolonged labor prior to delivery causes maternal physiologic compromise, resulting in fetal depression due to decreased placental perfusion, hypoxemia and acidosis. Maternal and puppy mortality is significantly increased during emergent versus planned CS 1 2. Timing and preparation are extremely important for puppy survival for both elective and emergency CS, and a thorough understanding of the maternal physiologic changes and the potential impact of anesthetic drugs is essential to optimize outcomes for both mother and fetus (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Maintaining adequate ventilation, oxygenation and perfusion in the dam will optimize fetal outcome => “Happy dam, Happy baby”. © Stephanie Kelley and Rhonda Snitker of Snitker Goldens, Waukon, IA USA

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